Wills Memorial Building occupation continues after negotiations with Bristol University break down

Both the occupiers and Bristol University have issued statements on the situation

Students still occupy the Great Hall inside University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Hall after negotiations broke down over their exit on Monday.

The protest in support of university staff on strike was set to last three days when it launched on February 28, but there appears to be no immediate sign of the 12 students leaving after a statement was issued yesterday.

The group, known as Occupy Wills, said it was to go on Monday after concessions were agreed with the university - but it says this was halted after receiving an email from management with accusations of ‘arguably violent acts’ toward staff.

The group claimed the university was using this claim to justify rescinding all agreed concessions, including bringing no action against occupiers of the building - and that the management had abandoned negotiations.

Students occupy the Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building. Credit: Jakob Vinther

Bristol University has since said it had received information that there may have been unacceptable behaviour, and that action could be required if this was the case.

What Occupy Will says

In a statement widely circulated on social media, Occupy Wills said: “We are saddened and shocked that university management has resorted to veiled threats after a long negotiation process which has been chief amicable and productive.

“Having trusted university management throughout this process, and having engaged with them in good faith, occupiers are disappointed that it has come to this.”

It continues: “The situation can be promptly and easily resolved if university management maintain the concessions already agreed upon, at which point the building will be vacated.”

What do the group want

What the University says

A Bristol University spokesperson said: “Contrary to statements from the occupiers, the university remains committed to not taking action in relation to peaceful protest.

“We also always support the right of members of our university community to work in a safe and caring environment.

“We received additional information yesterday that suggests there may have been unacceptable behaviour and, if further action is required in this case, we will follow our acceptable behaviour policy.

“Our position on spreading strike deductions across two months, as has always been our approach and agreed with our University and College Union branch, remains unchanged.”